The West should turn “from reactive to proactive strategies” when dealing with Russia, Ukraine’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Speaking to foreign media in an online briefing about the ongoing conflict, the current situation in the region, and what can be done to defuse the tensions, Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine is “historically, politically, and culturally” a part of the West.

“Russia built up its military infrastructure near the Ukrainian border and tested the reaction of the West,” he said, adding that last spring Ukraine started “ringing all bells” after Russia concentrated troops at the border.

Kuleba underlined that despite the recent claims of Russia about “some kind of limited withdrawal” of troops from the border, Ukraine cannot confirm “any real decrease in the number of troops.”

“Ukraine is preparing itself for all possible scenarios,” he said, adding that they do not underestimate the threat.

Ukraine is ready to meet with Russia “in any format to seek diplomatic solutions,” Ukraine’s top diplomat said. “We have never been hiding from negotiations.”

He emphasized the importance of the global strategy of containment and deterrence and said that military adventures are not worth their price.

“Ukraine calls on Russia to withdraw the troops it amassed near our border, bring them back to their bases, stop intimidating Ukraine and the wider Euro-Atlantic community and address all issues at the negotiating table only,” he reiterated.

Russia, he said, has invaded Georgia and Ukraine, and that for this reason, it is the West, not Russia, that should ask for security guarantees.

No offensive operations, provocations

“Ukraine doesn’t plan any offensive operations or provocations,” he said, adding that Russia is an “aggressor” in the area.

He said that Ukraine, along with its partners and allies, “can be efficient in deterring Russia.”

Kuleba highlighted that Russia’s troops at the border, in Belarus, and in occupied territories are “insufficient for a large-scale military operation” against Ukraine, but admitted that troops are “huge.”

“We never raised the issue of requesting foreign countries to send an army to fight for us,” he said, adding that since 2014 the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian army have been fighting and defending their country.

He went on to say that Kyiv is ready to move forward but Moscow should take the first step.

“If Russia is still in Ukraine, it means that everyone, all partners of Ukraine should do more,” Kuleba added.

Diplomatic missions in Ukraine

Speaking on the withdrawal of some members of several diplomatic missions and their families, as well as calls for the citizens of certain countries to leave Ukraine amid tensions, Kuleba said the decision was “premature,” adding that “it doesn’t correspond to the reality.”

Kuleba said he appreciated the decision of these states as they have their own protocols, noting that less than five countries called on their own citizens not to visit Ukraine or leave it, while over 120 other countries represented in Ukraine have not done anything similar.

Ukraine welcomes any effort from any country, any international institution “to keep the situation on track,” he said.

Kuleba also hailed the US for the “largest military aid in history.”

“There is still room for diplomacy. If Russia decides to attack, we will fight,” he concluded.

Ukraine and Russia have been locked in a conflict since hostilities in the eastern Donbas region broke out in 2014 after Russia illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula.

Russia also recently amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s borders, prompting fears that the Kremlin could be planning another military offensive against its ex-Soviet neighbor.

Moscow has denied it is preparing to invade and said its troops are there for exercises.

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